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Carthage v. Radtke

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

February 5, 2018



          J. P. Stadtmueller U.S. District Judge.

         Plaintiff Charles E. Carthage, Jr. (“Carthage”), a prisoner proceeding pro se, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants, various employees at Dodge Correctional Institution (“Dodge”), alleging that they wrongfully designated him an escape risk. (Docket #9 at 5-6). This designation lead Carthage to suffer increased physical restraints and strip searches, verbal abuse by guards, and severe conduct restrictions. Id. at 6- 7. The designation also meant that Carthage was passed over for a needed kidney transplant. Id. at 8.

         Carthage was allowed to proceed on three claims: (1) deprivation of due process, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment; (2) unconstitutional conditions of confinement, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment; and (3) deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Id. at 9-10. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment on December 27, 2017, arguing that Carthage failed to exhaust his administrative remedies before filing this suit. (Docket #19). Carthage filed nothing in response, and the deadline for doing so has passed. On the state of the record, the Court is obliged to grant Defendants' motion and dismiss this action.


         2.1 Summary Judgment

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides that the court “shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Boss v. Castro, 816 F.3d 910, 916 (7th Cir. 2016). A fact is “material” if it “might affect the outcome of the suit” under the applicable substantive law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute of fact is “genuine” if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id. The court construes all facts and reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-movant. Bridge v. New Holland Logansport, Inc., 815 F.3d 356, 360 (7th Cir. 2016).

         2.2 Exhaustion of Prisoner Administrative Remedies

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) establishes that, prior to filing a lawsuit complaining about prison conditions, a prisoner must exhaust “such administrative remedies as are available[.]” 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). This includes pretrial detainees. See Burton v. Ruzicki, 258 F. App'x 882, 885 (7th Cir. 2007); Truly v. Sheahan, 135 F. App'x 869, 871 (7th Cir. 2005).

         To exhaust administrative remedies, the prisoner must “file complaints and appeals in the place, and at the time, the prison's administrative rules require, ” and he must do so precisely in accordance with those rules; substantial compliance does not satisfy the PLRA. Pozo v. McCaughtry, 286 F.3d 1022, 1025 (7th Cir. 2002); Burrell v. Powers, 431 F.3d 282, 284-85 (7th Cir. 2005). A suit must be dismissed if it was filed before exhaustion was complete, even if exhaustion is achieved before judgment is entered. Perez v. Wis. Dep't of Corr., 182 F.3d 532, 535 (7th Cir. 1999). Several important policy goals animate the exhaustion requirement, including restricting frivolous claims, giving prison officials the opportunity to address situations internally, giving the parties the opportunity to develop the factual record, and reducing the scope of litigation. Smith v. Zachary, 255 F.3d 446, 450-51 (7th Cir. 2001). Failure to exhaust administrative remedies is an affirmative defense to be proven by Defendants. Westefer v. Snyder, 422 F.3d 570, 577 (7th Cir. 2005).

         The Wisconsin Department of Corrections maintains an Inmate Complaint Review System (“ICRS”) to provide a forum for administrative complaints. Wis. Admin. Code § DOC 310.04. The ICRS governs complaints made in Wisconsin state prisons against correctional officials, whether filed by convicted prisoners or pretrial detainees. See Id. § DOC 310.03(11) (defining ICRS as “the process by which complaints filed by inmates of adult correctional institutions are investigated and resolved”) (emphasis added).

         There are two steps an inmate must take to exhaust his administrative remedies under the ICRS. First, the inmate must file an offender complaint with the Institution Complaint Examiner (“ICE”) within fourteen days of the events giving rise to the complaint. Id. §§ DOC 310.07(1), 310.09(6). The ICE may reject a complaint or, before accepting it, can direct the inmate to “attempt to resolve the issue.” See Id. §§ DOC 310.08, 310.09(4), 310.11(5). If the complaint is rejected, the inmate may appeal the rejection to the appropriate reviewing authority. Id. § DOC 310.11(6).[1] If the complaint is not rejected, the ICE issues a recommendation for disposing of the complaint, either dismissal or affirmance, to the reviewing authority. Id. §§ DOC 310.07(2), 310.11. The reviewing authority may accept or reject the ICE's recommendation. Id. § DOC 310.07(3).

         Second, if the ICE recommends dismissal and the reviewing authority accepts it, the inmate may appeal the decision to the Corrections Complaint Examiner (“CCE”) within ten days. Id. §§ DOC 310.07(6), 310.13. The CCE issues a recommendation to the Secretary of the Department of Corrections, who may accept or reject it. Id. §§ DOC 310.07(7), 310.13, 310.14. Upon receiving the Secretary's decision, or after forty-five days from the date the Secretary received the recommendation, the inmate's administrative remedies are exhausted. Id. §§ DOC 310.07(7), 310.14.

         3. RELEVANT FACTS

         3.1 Carthage's Failure to ...

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